CJ Replay: The Frustrated Church Musician
Date: December 19, 2013
(An excerpt from the Choral Journal article, “A Dear John Letter,” by John Yarrington)
I just had to write somebody and get my frustrations down on paper. It is very difficult to be a church 'choir director these days with all the different winds blowing in the church. I don't know when to stand fast and when to bend. Sometimes I hardly know what is the right thing for my choirs and congregation. Let me list my major frustrations, sort-of outline form, and maybe you would respond to them. I would really appreciate it:
1. I ATTEMPT to do beautiful, "worthy" music and do it well EVERY Sunday on the very limited rehearsal time allotted to the average church choir with the usual gamut of dedication from its members. By "worthy" music, I do not imply "hard." I simply mean, well-written music sung in an acceptable manner. Surely the Lord likes a well-tuned chord better than one which is"sprung" and doubtless, beautiful vowel sounds, crisp consonants, etc., fall gratefully on his ears also!
2. My second frustration grows out of the first one. Is it "religious" or not to work on the techniques of choral singing? Sometimes, I feel that there are choir members who just want to "feel it in their hearts," or "let the words speak to them," or something of the sort and they IMPLY that we should not spend so much time getting ready to "perform." I know the term "performance" is not supposed to be used with church choirs but isn't that honestly a part of what we do when we try to get vowel sounds to blend, chords to tune and the like? Should we just dismiss what we do on Sunday with "it's just a church choir"?